Today we are myth busting one of the most common ‘wear and tear’ diagnosis in the UK – Arthritis!
Let’s just jump straight in and say it………. Arthritis is NOT wear and tear!
Osteoarthritis (OA) has long been considered a ‘wear and tear’ disease where it’s explained the cartilage wears out from overuse. This diagnosis is often coupled with ‘old age’ and makes the average person feel old and rubbish about themselves. We may as well just prescribe them a dose of ‘sit down, don’t move, and knit!’
However the truth is OA is caused more by inflammation than it is by overuse.
Let’s start by looking at the name ‘Osteoarthritis’. The last part ‘-itis’ by definition – ‘forming names of inflammatory diseases’ So, by definition it’s inflammation.
‘OA in the hands of obese people is twice as common then it is in leaner people. Being obese also increases the chances that once you have OA in one joint, you will develop it elsewhere’ (arthritis. org). This cannot be explained by overuse, but instead by the pro-inflammatory effect of fat tissue.
‘Fat is chemically active and constantly releases inflammation-causing proteins’ (arthritis. org).
‘These proteins travel through your whole body and make it a little inflamed everywhere, including in your joints. Constant, low-grade inflammation makes your joints more likely to develop OA, and joints not loaded by weight are just as vulnerable’. (Peter van der Kraan, PhD, head of experimental rheumatology at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.)
So what we are saying here is inflammation from a chemical imbalance, along with joints NOT being used are a cause of OA.
We know that the disuse of any joint causes loss of volume of cartilage, as seen in polio and stroke patients. So scientifically it’s true to say joints do not wear out by over use, instead they become more healthy with exercise and worse in sedentary people.
So what are the factors that can cause Osteoarthritis OA?
For this we return to the PW Therapy Famous Seven (a better name is needed I know!)
An incorrect balance of any of these 7 factors below will cause the wrong type of inflammation, as well as the ‘on/off’ switch of genes in our body (see previous post on Epigenetics).
What can you do if you have the diagnosis of OA? Firstly changing the language is the MOST important thing to do. ‘I have a diagnosis of Osteoarthritis’ NOT ‘I have Osteoarthritis’
This is the most important mindset change for all diseases and diagnosis. If you truly believe you have something, then you do, which makes it harder to fix.
If you believe your joints are worn out you will avoid the exercises that could help repair them due to the mistaken belief that exercising will make your arthritis worse.
Exercise of all types, including high impact activities help to optimise the health of your joints and mind even if you have OA. If you are overweight seek the advice of a Specialist Personal Trainer, Rehabilitation Specialist, or Sports Therapist. However don’t be scared to move and start with walking or swimming.
Nutrition and hydration are also important factors to consider. If we are eating highly processed foods this causes a spike in Proinflammatory Cytokines (positive mediators of inflammation).
From the list below, avoid if you have OA, and limit if you don’t want OA.
•Margarine and other spreadable ‘butters’.
•Processed and Cured meats.
Focus on optimising your nutrition, sleep, stress, and exercise. Seek the help of a specialist if you have had, or have, trauma, infections, or are around toxins (including toxic people and environments as well as machinery, gases/chemicals etc).
Let’s stop scaring people and let’s focus on helping them with exercise, movement and optimising their health by addressing the lifestyle factors that could contributing to inflammation.
I wonder how many other diseases or conditions are due to inflammation?…….